Ethical Issues in International Business – Human Rights
Generally, the questions arose with respect to human rights issues are often presented within the scope of international business. The fact that liberty and equality aspect are still not fully upheld, embodied, and respected in United States turns out to be a simultaneous case in some parts of the world. Perhaps, one of the pertinent examples in relevance to this systemic racial problem is the history of the political apartheid in South Africa many years ago during the reigning period of the white supremacy which did not end until the year 1994.

At that time, the structure of the political apartheid was thoroughly rejected by the majority of the white population in South Africa which caused the black officials highly restrained to be promoted to any prominent position in the government body; resulting a severe act of discrimination against the black communities. Although the nature of this despicable form of racism appeared to be strongly ingrained in South Africa (not to mention when doing businesses in particular), however, some Western corporations started to open their minds and reframe their human affairs policy in the late 1970s and in the early 1980s.

For example, the well-known and giant American company General Motors which had its significant activities or business operations in South Africa was at the forefront of this trend. The company decided to have adopted what was called the Sullivan principles promulgated by Leon Sullivan (a black Baptist preacher and he was the member of the company’s Board of Directors).

The black reverent preacher Leon Sullivan boldly argued and stood firmly by his principles stating that it was ethically justifiable for GM (General Motors) to operate in South Africa for two running terms, whereby the company firstly was not entirely subject to adhere the political apartheid laws in the territory where its operations were based and secondly, the corporation must do everything it could with its power and authority to promote the abolition of the laws.

In short, the Sullivan principles were eventually adopted and embraced mostly by other US companies in South Africa at that time. However, the South Africa government in contrast did not plan to cripple the presence of their notable foreign white investors so they preferred to abide by the political apartheid system instead, thus, ignoring a prolonged series of human rights violations ultimately in their country.

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